Video by Brian Holt
Black activists and L.A. City Councilmember Mike Bonin spoke at a candlelight vigil tonight in memory of Gemmel Moore to demand the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department and the district attorney investigate the young African-American man’s death in the apartment of a prominent white political donor.
The speakers called out everything from meth addiction to racial discrimination in the gay community and what they perceived as a reluctance by law enforcement to investigate crimes involving black male sex workers.
Moore, 26, was found dead on July 27 in the Laurel Avenue apartment of Ed Buck. Buck is a 62-year-old white man known for his successful promotion of a fur ban in West Hollywood and for his donations to local, state and national Democratic Party candidates. The L.A. County Coroner’s Office ruled the death of Moore, a self-confessed prostitute, an accident. The Coroner’s report gives the cause as methamphetamine, a highly addictive and dangerous drug. Sheriff Jim McDonnell announced earlier this week that the Sheriff’s Department was opening an investigation into the previously closed case because of new allegations that have emerged.
Bonin promised that the incident will be investigated. “This tragedy shouldn’t be and won’t be ignored and won’t be forgotten,” he told the crowd of roughly two dozen activists and Moore family members who stood on the southeast corner of Santa Monica and San Vicente boulevards, in front of the WeHo Sheriff’s Station. Bonin said there is “someone of influence” who will ask the district attorney and the Sheriff’s Department to investigate Moore’s death. “The life of a young black gay man is just as important as the life of a blonde girl,” Bonin said, suggesting that Moore’s race may have been a factor in the quick closing of the coroner’s investigation.
Jasmyne Cannick,a black communications and public affairs strategist who has written about what she sees as a divide between white and black gay men, called on the district attorney to grant immunity to other black male prostitutes who may have had contact with Buck so that they can talk about that. Cannick has written about Moore’s death on her blog and has published pages from Moore’s personal journal in which he talks about his drug use and relationship with Buck.
Cannick said that young men have told her they went to the WeHo Sheriff’s Station to report incidents with Buck but were asked to leave because deputies believed they were “tweaking,” or high on meth.
“We cannot treat young black gay men differently than we treat black female sex workers when they try to report an aggressive pimp,” Cannick said.
Cannick alleged other incidents where Buck engaged young black me in drug use and said she soon will be publishing more information on her blog, including videos of interviews and pages from Moore’s journal. She noted that Seymour Amster, a lawyer engaged to represent Buck, is known for his defense last year of a serial killer known as the “Grim Sleeper.” Buck, Cannick said, is the “WeHo Creeper.”
Melena Abdullah, chair of the Department of Pan-African Studies at Cal State L.A. and an organizer of “Black Lives Matter,” called the Sheriff’s Department’s initial decision not to investigate the case an example of “state-sanctioned violence” and made reference to the white supremacist protest in Charlottesville, Va., last week that resulted in the death of one opponent of the rally.
Dallas Fowler, who served on a panel of the L.A. Board of Police Commissioners and runs a consulting business, raised another issue, complaining that no local politicians, with the exception of Bonin, attended the vigil. She said it was important for representatives of the Democratic Party, where Buck is known as a major donor, to speak up about Moore’s death. Her remarks were followed by a brief statement from a Stonewall Democratic Club board member condemning Moore’s death.
Perhaps the most moving comments came from Moore’s mother, LaTisha Nixon, who posted a video on YouTube calling for an investigation into her son’s death. Nixon and her family lived in the Los Angeles area before moving to Texas several years ago. She was accompanied by her mother, Sandra Bufford, an aunt, and by Jamisha and Derrick Nixon, two of her five children.
“It’s too late for Gemmel, but we can save other young gay men,” Nixon said. “My son was more than a sex-worker. He was my son … My whole life has been turned upside down. I just want justice … Ed Buck needs to be held to accountability for all that he has done.”
Paul Scott, president of L.A. Black Gay Pride, spoke to allegations by Nixon and others than Buck engaged her son as a prostitute. “Black men have been hunted for our body parts for a long time,” he said. He said that Buck “had the money to order up black boys like they were on the auction block.”
A “home going” service will be held on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at the Simpson Funeral Home at 5138 S. Broadway Ave. in Los Angeles. Nixon and her mother and children are returning to their home in Texas next week.
Buck could not be reached for comment.
I am a white man. When I am asked to describe Brad Pitt, I say he is “blonde haired and blue eyed”. When I am asked to describe Antonio Banderas, I say he is “Spanish with dark hair”. When I am asked to describe Denzel Washington, I say he is “black”. It is ALWAYS about race when you aren’t white, even if you aren’t racist. I am horrified by the insensitivity of some of the comments here – this is why “white privilege” has become such a hot-button topic…When you always have something, you have no idea it’s a privilege.
That’s you, SE. That’s not everyone. If someone asked me to describe Brad Pitt, other than being a lame-ass actor and entitled celebrity, I’d describe him as a white guy. And as for your ‘White Privilege’ thing…well, the majority of the population is Caucasian. All you’ve pointed to is the privilege of having a skin tone similar to the majority, and hence the assumption that you’re white if, when asked to describe you, the describer doesn’t mention skin color. Is that all you got?
WEHO boy, the issue is not black or white nor straight or gay. The issue is a prominent Democratic white man was shooting up men in order to satisfy his sexual kink and then the attempted cover up of the death of this young man. When was the last time you heard about a person dying of a drug overdose and the police did not investigate the incident?
I don’t know what happened,I was not there. Nor did I now the young man.At this point we have a dead prostitute. Race is brought up by those supporting the deceased, black and white. They love it. Racism everywhere. Shame on those exploiting this lost souls death to further their agenda.They spread hate and division rather than accepting it for what it is.A drug user died. A very old story that will continue to be told time and time again.
It’s so sad how a death of a young BLACK man to METH, is one more reason to divide our community. the bottom line, we must fight for those who need us, regardless of they skin color or gender. the challenge we are facing in west hollywood with drug user especially METH is long over due. It must be our first priority as people who keep saying we care for all people. it’s been too many amazing gay men who lost they lives to drugs in the last few years. men of all nationalities, young and not, rich and poor.… Read more »
Please stop being so melodramatic. “Onslaught”? Please!!! This is a mole-hill matter that you and others are trying to make into a mountain. So many gay activists seem inclined toward this to eek-out publicity and make themselves feel important. The mother in question here is doing this, Sean, and so are you. Let the police investigate. End of matter.
J.V., there has, indeed, been a right-wing onslaught attacking Gemmel Moore, his mother, Democrats, progressive activists, and the entire LGBTQ community over the tragic circumstances of Gemmel Moore’s death. Your callous and tone-deaf contribution to the dialogue only serves to cause further embarrassment to our community. Mind your manners. Ms. Nixon has stated that she is a very private person. But she has expressed that she feels the need to speak out about how her son died because she does not want other young LGBTQ people to find themselves in a similar situation. That is reasonable and appropriate. She has… Read more »
In his comments on the matter, Councilman John Duran seemed to discourage any other potential witnesses with information about Mr. Buck’s activities (with regard to prostitutes and drugs) from coming forward. Why?
Nothing will happen to Buck because the good ol’ boys’ club of West Hollywood protects their own.
Bravo, JJ! That’s what so much in life comes down to: personal responsibility. That’s what the apologists can’t accept, and so they make certain groups of people perpetual victims who shouldn’t be held the standards and consequences.
What ever happened to personal responsibility? The deceased chose to use the drug that killed him. I’m sure if there is evidence that Mr. Buck was somehow responsible for this guy’s death (in full or in part), the proper charges will be brought. The guy was a drug addict that overdosed. It seems more and more that the race card today replaces taking personal responsibility and it’s a shame because it’s taking away from cases when race really is a factor.
Where were the WeHo city officials during this vigil? Why did they need to import a LA City Councilman? (What influence would he have?) Where are the Black Lives Matter folks? You would think they would be all over this.
Representatives of Black Lives Matter attended the vigil and one spoke.
Why does every politically opportunistic death require a vigil?
ToTheLeft, your comments about Stonewall Democrats is not accurate. Stonewall stands behind the family of Gemmel Moore. Literally. The leadership of Stonewall is clearly visible at the memorial in the video attached to this story. Stonewall immediately demanded Mr. Buck’s resignation from its board and put out a statement in support of the family, noting the seriousness of the allegations immediately after the news broke on August 7. JV, your criticisms of the mother are completely unwarranted. Ms. Nixon has bravely stood up for the LGBTQ community in the face of a right-wing onslaught attacking her son for his homosexuality.… Read more »
Sean, c’mon now . . . “Bravely”? Why is it so brave to hold a press conference? “”Onslaught”? Can you be any more melodramatic and exaggerate the situation? Since when does someone expressing contrary/critical views constitute an onslaught? “Unmitigated gall”? Very trite. “Sex worker”? That’s the liberal-apologist’s PC euphemism for “prostitute”. “Stood up for the LGBTQ community”? That’s a meaningless line in a stereotypical gay activist’s press release. We might be gay but we’re not so weak and spineless that we need someone “standing up for us,” particularly the mother of an unfortunate dead guy who should sit back down,… Read more »